But not for me. "I'm not taking her downstairs again."
"I'm just not, that's all."
I wasn't going to say any more. I could still hear the waitress's voice. As I lay framed in the banisters, a dog fastened to my right leg, an open-mouthed dining room silently waiting to see what we'd do next. "Anglais," she'd said, just the one word, mentioned in passing to one of the guests, as she flitted between the tables, collecting plates. But it was enough. Conversation resumed, glasses clinked and eyes left the stair-well. What kind of reputation do we English have in Europe?
So, Shelagh escorted Gypsy about town, while I phoned my sister to give her the news. She didn't believe it either but knew me better than to ask if I'd fixed the horsebox roof.
But we did have a house. The Acte had been signed, the furniture unloaded and the electric fence erected. I told her not to expect us until Friday or Saturday and to leave the front door key somewhere obvious in the outhouse.
And then I settled down to watch TV. I found all the English channels and was just starting to enjoy myself when Gypsy returned.
Which is when the real worrying started. Neither of us could remember seeing Gypsy relieve herself since we returned from the pub in Dover the night before. All the opportunities we'd given her since she'd spurned.
How long could a puppy remain bottled up? I didn't want to think any further than that. But more dog-walking seemed to be the preferable proposition. Especially now the dining room was empty.
I don't remember how many times we walked around Wimereux. Sometimes there were three of us, sometimes just Shelagh and Gypsy. We saw storms, we saw sunny periods, we saw everything except what we wanted to see.
She just wouldn't relieve herself while on the lead. That had to be it. We'd never had to leash her on the farm before because our fields were well-fenced and we'd never taken her for walks anywhere else. But could we unleash her here?
And expect to see her again?
Which would be worse - to tramp the wet and wind-lashed streets of Wimereux searching for a lost puppy or tied to a constipated one? We voted for the former, narrowly. Consequently, we staggered for interminable hours through the various shades of a force ten gale, humans and puppy eyeing each other in embarrassed silence.
As we approached the hotel for the seventh or eighth time, I looked through the spray and heaving sea towards our old home. To the place where thirty-two hours ago, we'd embarked on a thousand mile journey south. We were now 250 miles due east. At this rate we'd be in Poland by the week-end.
We pushed on towards the promenade, hoping to find a beach where we could let Gypsy off but either there wasn't a beach or the tide was in. And the promenade was covered in spray and breaking waves.
We returned to the hotel, wondering if we should try a laxative. Or would that present fate with too tempting a target? Just how quick can you run downstairs carrying an incontinent puppy?
Back in the room the phone rang. I'd reached such a low ebb by that time that I half-expected to hear that a freak tornado had whisked the new horsebox away to Cuba, but no, it was on its way and expected to arrive at the lairage between one and two, the next morning. The driver would phone us at the hotel as soon as he arrived.
If we lasted that long.
But an unexpected chain of events was gathering in the ether. Minnie started mewling for no apparent reason, which set off Guinny, which in turn signalled to Gypsy that it was probably time to chew something human. I objected and in the ensuing excitement Gypsy's intestinal abstinence came to a sudden and, some might add, spectacular end in the bathroom shower tray.
I have never seen anyone so pleased to clean up after a dog before.
(next instalment: a new plan, a new torment)